“They grew up on the outside of society. They weren’t looking for a fight. They were looking to belong.”
Honestly, this is going to be less like my regular template book reviews, simply because this is one of my favorite books/movies and I have a lot to say regarding it, and it’s entirety. I can’t believe I let myself wait all this time until 2016 to experience this story full of emotion, family and love. A love like not many books focuses on.
Summary: The plot centers around a boy named Ponyboy Curtis and his two brothers, Sodapop, and Darryl. Living on their own in a big town suburb after the death of their parents, they’ve surrounded themselves with a family of the neighborhood’s teen boys that aren’t in much better situations than them. Their group is called “The Greasers”, named after their infamous slicked back hair. And while they look tough on the outside, they all are just trying to protect themselves from being broken yet again while they rival with the town’s rich kids, the socials. (Or socs for short) One night, when they strike unexpectedly, Jonny and Ponyboy take matters into their own hands without thinking of the lasting effects on the group.
Ponyboy (C. Thomas Howell) is 14 years old and is practically being raised by his brothers. These boys have high expectations for him in terms of school so that he can make something of himself when he’s older, unlike they were able to. While he tries to be strong, his innocence makes it hard for him to handle the traumatic situations that he is constantly faced with. This causes him to need the guidance of the group more than he would like to admit.
Sodapop (Rob Lowe) is 16 going on 17 and is the light of the family, even if he will never grow up. Due to their situation, he was forced to drop out of school, yet he still wants the best for everyone else. Sodapop can always be counted on to make you smile in the worst of situations, and is always willing to listen even they don’t return the favor. He’s described as the pretty boy of the group and, therefore, he’s the guy all the ladies want. Though they can’t all have him, because his family comes first and after come his friends and girlfriend. (Personally, he is my favorite character)
Darryl (Patrick Swayze) is the substitute father of Ponyboy and Soda. At only 20 years old, he works two jobs, had to skip college and is tasked with running the household. Tough and cold, he frequently argues with Ponyboy over his expectations for him, but Darryl really just wants the best for his brothers.
Johnny (Ralph Macchio) is the “pet” of the group, quiet, scrawny and impossible to be mad at. Living in a home where he is abused he finds refuge with the Greasers, there they all watch over him and give him a life that he’s happy to live in. He may be small but he is mighty and is willing to do anything to protect his new family.
Dallas (Matt Dillon) is the wild card. Fresh out of jail, he’s had his share of fights and law breaking. With no family to help him, he sticks around the Greasers just to have friends, even if he still constantly keeps his guard up. With everything that has happened to him during his life, he’s realized it’s better to push people away then let them in.
Rating: 5 STARS
Why?: After watching the movie a couple of weeks ago and absolutely loving it, I was so happy to get some time to read the book it was based on. And I must say that with both the book and movie being equally great, they simply furthered my love for the story and it’s characters. Not only is it quick, but it has the fluidity of a story being told to you in person instead of in the form of a novel. And even though I don’t live in a town with this kind of distinct grouping, it was such a real story and there were so much emotion and excitement packed into the narrative of a young boy and his time spent with his best friends. When it was published, in a time where there was little to no realistic teen fiction, this story stood out as unique and I think it still does now. It teaches us that kids of whatever background, rich, poor, abandoned or not all have their problems. She showed us that we should never think someone has a perfect life just because their problems are different than ours.
My Favorite Part: (SPOILER ALERT) Since my favorite character is Soda, my personal favorite scene is the very end. Soda loses it and shows us that even the brightest people have problems and insecurities. He runs out of the house crying, and later admits to his brothers how their fighting is tearing him apart and how he doesn’t want to lose his brothers like he lost his girlfriend, Sandy. Yet the part of his speech that gets me the most is the part where he is explaining what they want for Ponyboy and why Soda doesn’t want Ponyboy to follow in his footsteps. He explains that “he’s happy to be working at a gas station, and no one should be happy doing that,” and that gets me every time. When people don’t have access or don’t have the resources to attain an education it never fails to make me sad, even if they aren’t real. That means that they probably won’t be able to do everything they want to do with their life because they won’t have the ability to get a job good enough to make enough money for it. (It’s a shame that money is the center of everything…) So the fact that he had to drop out of school, and now he’s content to be working at a gas station because he didn’t think he could do much better than that, just makes me want to cry (and sometimes do) every time I watch the scene.
I recently read a review on thelightjar.wordpress.com on “The Outsiders” and I loved some of things she had to say about the book because she was able to put some of the feelings into words better than I could, so I thought I would share it with you:
“And then gutting questions like how can we find courage to live for something rather than die for it? how can we be tough enough but not so tough and calloused by the world that we forget to love? and how do we stop ourselves from becoming hateful when we live in such a hateful world?” -On the themes of the novel
“The Outsiders reminded me that we sometimes fall in love with a book’s characters as we would in ‘real life’; such that when the last page is finally turned, the book closed, and the story over for good, it stings like a goodbye, and you feel an empty void of missing them with your full heart. Maybe you even earnestly wish them better days.” -On the reality of the characters
I highly suggest this book and movie for any age and any kind of person. I think everyone can take something away from this story even if it’s just an immense love for the characters. Plus, this book can be read quickly, so it’s especially good to get through a reading slump or if you need a book to read on the side of another one.
What did you guys think?